Logan lay among the broken shards of glass for several seconds, trying to regain his wits. His ears rang, and every fiber in his body burned. He blinked several times, willing his sight to return. He could hear moans from inside the tv room. He stumbled to his feet, not really caring who else had been hurt. He searched around for Francis. The boy had been ripped from his arms when he released his energy. This time, the energy released was significantly less than when they were in the woods, dealing with the "mugger". This time, the boy released only enough energy to knock people off their feet.
He stepped inside through the shattered window, seeing bodies strewn everywhere. None seemed to be hurt too badly, and the scent of blood in the air was not too strong. He saw Xavier tipped from his chair, unhurt. He saw Stella sitting very still in the middle of the floor, and her mother, lying face down, weeping. There was no sign of Francis anywhere.
He searched under broken chairs, and behind upended tables. He could hear Storm, Jean and Scott running in the halls. "What happened?" "Oh my God!" "Professor? What the hell happened?"
Logan had little time for them, little time to answer questions. He scented the air, trying to detect if Francis was still nearby. He picked up a faint trace, and followed it, passing people demanding to know what had happened. In a corner of the room, curled up behind a shattered chair, the boy sat, quivering. Logan approached him carefully.
"Hey? You alright?"
Francis looked up at him, and through him. "I didn't mean it." His voice was weak and shaky. "I'm sorry. Don't be mad at me."
"I'm not mad. The place needed to be redecorated anyway. Nobody got fried." Logan knelt beside the boy. "You ok?"
"Uh huh. My arm hurts. I think I bumped it."
"Lemme see." Logan examined the boy's arm, and could sense the grandmother walk up behind him. "Eh, you'll live. Just have a hell of a bruise there."
"You have a cut on your hand." The boy pointed, the focus returning to his eyes.
"Not the first time." He held his hand out, and the wound on his hand faded and disappeared.
Francis gave a weak smile. "That is so cool. I wish I could do that."
Logan knew that the grandmother had seen it as well. She had witnessed what Francis was capable of, so she may as well see it all. He could hear a deep gasp. Francis looked up at her, and beamed.
"Hi, granny. Ain't that neat? You should see his knife things. Real cool."
She knelt down slowly and cautiously next to them, and reached out to her grandson. "Are....are you ok?"
"Uh huh. I got a big bump on my arm. How do you feel?" Francis acted as if nothing happened, displaying a type of post shock amnesia he had exhibited in the past.
"What happened?" She spoke to Francis, but the question was directed to Logan.
He continued to check Francis for injuries, and did not look up when he answered. "You saw what happened. You tell me."
"I....I'm not sure......I'm not sure what I saw." She sat back on the floor, and looked from Logan to Francis. Logan now looked up at her, into her eyes. "Is he.....are you....?"
Logan made no response, as she looked at the others. He could see the realization spill across her face. When her eyes once again met his, he said simply, "Do you understand now?"
Judge Hanson stumbled to his feet, and Scott and Jean helped Xavier back into his chair. He looked around at the others also struggling to their feet, assisting each other. Storm and Rogue kept the students at bay, keeping them away. Jean went from person to person, checking to see if they were injured. All of the injuries were minor, mostly scrapes, bumps and bruises.
Hanson looked at Xavier. "Is this what you tried to tell me earlier? Did the boy do this too?"
"Yes. He did."
"Is he dangerous?"
"No. We wouldn't be here if he was. It is a defense mechanism. He could have potentially blown away half of this building."
The judge leaned against the upended sofa. "Jesus Christ. Are you telling me that this was not an example of what he's capable of?"
"Not even close. As I said, he perceived a threat, and his body reacted to it. It will take some time for him to learn complete control. This is why we wanted him to remain here, with us." Xavier knew that this was a lot of information to share, information which under different circumstances would have remained hidden. But the boy's future depended on this information being shared, shared with a man Xavier felt he could trust, a man who would not exploit it.
The judge looked around in his shock, and spied Francis sitting with Logan and his grandmother, rubbing his arm, and chattering away. Clearly, the man was frightened, but he watched with interest. He saw that Logan was not afraid of the boy, and much to his surprise, neither was his grandmother. They sat, and smiled, as Logan checked the boy's injured arm, and the grandmother brushed the hair from his eyes. He moved his attention to Stella, sitting alone in the middle of the floor, glaring at the threesome.
"I wish I knew what to do, Charles. She is the boy's mother. She has mentioned she would like him locked up. Institutionalized. I must admit, I would have recommended it as well. I had been told that he tampered with the propane tank. I never would have imagined......."
"Yes, I know what she told you. But you now know what happened. The propane tank was an accident, a fluke. Is there anything we can do?"
"I don't know." Hanson suddenly turned to the man in the wheelchair. "How did you..........?" Xavier's face was stoic, and he did not flinch. "Oh dear God." He looked at Logan again, who was helping the boy to his feet. "Is he....one too?"
"I see." He sighed deeply, and looked at Stella, who was also rising to her feet.
Xavier's face grew cold. "We know how it happened, but what I want to know is why it happened."
Hanson too showed his concern. "So do I."
Francis was very wobbly on his feet, and Logan and his grandmother supported him. He looked around the disaster area, and frowned. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make a mess. Will X-avier be mad at me? Will Mr. Scott yell again?"
Logan smirked. "Scooter yells at the drop of a hat. I told you not to pay any attention to him. And I don't think the prof will be mad. You guys make a bigger mess in your dorm room." He looked down at the frail looking child. "Hell, you've seen some of the messes I make. This is nothin'."
Francis giggled, and looked up at his grandmother. "You should see the gym sometimes when he's in there. One time he punched a big hole in the wall. Mr. Scott was pissed." He noticed that his grandmother winced when he said that. "Oops. I'm supposed to watch my language. Sorry. Sometimes it just slips out. I'm getting better though. Logan reminds me when I got a filthy mouth."
She glanced up at the big man. "I'm sure he does. So Mr. Logan, you make big messes, huh?"
Logan felt his smirk grow. "Uh huh. Only when necessary."
They moved among the shook up lawyers and social workers, and Logan heard the faint sound of thunder in the distance. He looked at the professor, who had his eyes closed. He understood what the man was doing. With the help of Storm, he was planting suggestions in people's minds to explain what they had just witnessed. A freak, stray bolt of lightning. That is what everyone was murmuring to themselves. Xavier opened his eyes, and looked at Logan, relief in his eyes. The man was used to damage control of this magnitude. Logan could see however, that not everyone was convinced of the freak occurence. The judge stared at Francis, his eyes wide with confusion and fear, and there was another. Stella. Her eyes were nearly red with rage. She knew what had happened, she had seen it all before. She was on her feet now, her face slightly bruised, and she was slowly approaching her son.
Francis did not see his mother approaching, but Logan and the boy's grandmother did. They both moved as one to block the boy from his mother, as he chattered away.
Stella stopped when she reached the roadblock. She flinched slightly when she heard a low growl from Logan. Her eyes met his. "Get....out....of ....my.....way." She warned, but the two did not move. "He's my son, and he's going with me."
Logan sneered, and hissed through his teeth as he spoke. "No he's not. He ain't going anywhere. Not with you, not with anybody."
Logan was aware that most of the people in the room were being ushered away by Jean and Scott. This was going to be a private matter, and the less they others knew, the better. He had to hold off, restrain himself from gutting this woman, at least until all the unsuspecting witnesses were gone. He held his ground. He noticed from the corner of his eye that both the judge and the professor were nearing them. This was it, a showdown. Whether or not he had support, he would fight if necessary to keep the boy from getting hurt anymore.
Stella took a step closer to him, not caring about the difference in their sizes. She glared at him, her breath like fire against his chest. "Who the fuck do you think you are? You have no right to keep me from my son! I hope you like it in jail, because that's where you are going if you don't get out of my way!"
Logan remained still. She posed no threat to him, but he wanted Francis out of the line of fire. He spoke to the boy's grandmother softly and calmly. "Could you take the kid to see Jean. He needs that arm looked at." He never took his eyes off the woman in front of him. Female or not, she was asking for a lot of trouble. He could feel Francis gripping around his leg once more. "Go with your granny, kid. Dr. Jean will fix your arm, ok?" He felt the boy release his leg, and move away. Logan followed the boy's progress in Stella's eyes. She moved to follow, but Logan stepped in front of her once again.
"I'm warning you, get out of my way or I'll-" She was cut off.
"Or you'll what? Do I look scared?" He took a slow, deliberate step forward, causing Stella to step back. "You gonna beat me? I ain't a helpless little boy. You can't pull your little shit on me." He took another step forward. "I ain't afraid of you."
Stella continued her retreat. "I just want my son back! He needs help. He is a freak, and he needs help. My help. Not yours. Mine. You saw what he did! He almost killed me! He almost killed us all! He's dangerous!"
Logan deepened his glare. "If he wanted you dead, you'd be dead. Frankly I'm surprised he held back. If it were me, they'd be scaping you off the rug right now." His voice was poison, his glare deadly.
He saw fear emerge on the woman's face. "What? What was that? Was that a threat? Is that what it was? A threat on my life?" She looked around the room, and noticed everyone else had gone, save for Xavier and the judge. "You heard him, didn't you? He threatened me! He threatened to kill me! You heard it!"
The judge lowered his head. Xavier leveled a penetrating stare at her. "What did you do to the boy? Why is he so frightened of you?"
Logan turned his attention to the man in the wheelchair. It was something about the man's voice that made his spine tingle. He was on to something. He knew what happened. He watched as Xavier's eyes narrowed, and he winced as if in pain.
"How could you? He was just a boy. How could you do that to him?"
Stella was confused. "I didn't do anything to him."
"Oh, yes you did." The judge turned and listened intently to Xavier now. "How cruel and inhuman."
"What are you talking about? I didn't do anything!" Stella looked like a trapped rat now, looking for a way to escape.
"It was the boy's pet, he loved it."
Realization crept across her face. "How did you know? How did you know about that? Did he tell you? He was being punished. I told him I didn't want the filthy thing in the house, and he didn't listen to me. So he was punished. I had every right to punish him! I'm his mother!"
Logan felt a little lost. He wasn't sure what was going on. And then it hit him, what he had heard over all the shouting and commotion just before Francis erupted. She had mentioned a new kitten. Was that it, he thought. All this was over a kitten?
Xavier drew closer to Stella, his gaze piercing her. Logan had never seen the man look quite so angry. "No. If it were a mere punishment, you would have simply taken it away. But you chose to do more. You chose to torture the poor boy, didn't you?"
The use of that word made Logan snap. Before anyone could react, the woman was pinned against the wall, and Logan's large hand was at her throat. Now it was his turn. He hissed at her. "What did you do?" His hands gripped her throat tighter. He could feel her tremble. "Answer me! What did you do?"
Struggling for breath, she would admit nothing. "I punished my son!"
Something tickled at Logan's mind. Images formed in his brain. He glanced over at the professor, and the images grew clearer. The professor was linking him to her mind, showing him what she would not reveal. He saw Francis, thin, sickly, his face swollen with tears and welts and bruises, sitting on a small chair. He could hear Stella's voice in his head, screaming at the boy. "DO WHAT I TOLD YOU TO DO! RIGHT NOW!" She struck the boy, and Logan could actually feel the sting on his own cheek. He noticed in the boys lap, he held a small grey and white kitten. He could hear the animal mewing. And then he saw something that made his blood turn to ice. After another shout from his mother, and another punch to his face, Francis took a deep sobbing breath, and twisted the kittens neck, until it no longer struggled, and lay lifeless across his lap. Logan eyes fogged with tears. He heard a voice, seemingly from a thousand miles away, whisper, "Oh my God....." He turned and saw the judge's face had gone a deadly white. The professor had played the image in his mind as well. Logan then noticed the boy's grandmother standing in the doorway, holding her grandson tightly, crying openly. She gasped through her tears. "How could you do that?" That statement she repeated over and over. Francis had been spared the memory, his face expressionless save for a tear snaking it's way from his cheek as he looked at his mother.
Logan's looked back at the defiant woman in front of him. Her smug expression was too much for the man to take. His rage exploded. He swung his arm back, and heard Xavier yell behind him. "LOGAN! NO!!!"
His fist struck with a loud crunch against the wall, inches away from Stella's head, three blades penetrating deeply into the wall. He shook in his anger. He leaned forward, as growled to her. "You cruel bitch. What twisted sick pleasure did you get out of watching your son kill a little kitten? What other demented things did you do to him? He's not the dangerous one, the freak. You are." He pulled his fist away from the wall, his claws still bared, and rested the blades against her throat. She remained frozen in place, terrified. "You want to see cruel and sick? You want to see torture? Huh?" He leaned closer yet to her, and whispered in her ear. "You ain't seen nothing compared to what I can do."
Again, he heard Xavier's warning voice. "Logan, enough! Take care of Francis. He needs you." Logan turned to Francis, and it was obvious he was in trouble again. With one last glare at Stella, he pulled away from her, and began walking toward his little friend.
Stella cried and yelled insults at him as he walked. "I know what this place is, and now so will everyone else! I know what you are! I hope they come and burn this place to the ground, with all of you inside! That'll get rid of all you freaks once and for all!!!!"
Francis listened to what his mother was screaming. He looked up at Logan, and began his monotone babbling anew. "I'm sorry. I don't want anything to happen. It's all my fault. I didn't mean it. I'll leave and mommy won't bother you anymore. I can do that. It's ok, I'll be ok......."
Logan looked down at the boy. "Nope. You ain't going anywhere. You're stuck here, kid. Stuck with us. It's over."
Francis didn't hear Logan, and began to back away. "I can go away. I don't want to hurt anyone. It's all my fault...."
The boy's grandmother called after him. "Franky, it's over sweety. No one will let your mom hurt you anymore. Come here, we'll be ok."
Francis paused for a moment, looking at those present, and then spun, and ran from the room, toward the front door of the mansion.
Logan muttered to himself before running after the boy. "Son of a bitch!" Xavier sent a telepathic message to him as he ran outside into the misty rain following the boy across the grounds. "Take care of him, Logan. We'll deal with things here, I promise you." Logan sent a thought of his own. "Save a piece of that bitch for me."